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Westlife: Simon Cowell's Frankenstein Monster?

Feb 7, 2008
Since forming in Ireland in July 1998, Westlife have become household names in the United Kingdom, most of Europe, Australia, Asia, Latin America and Africa. Their music has evolved in parallel, from solely performing and recording ballads into a more contemporary form of pop music. And with that change, Lady Fortune has brought them tremendous success as one of the greatest boy bands of all time.

Signed by the infamous Simon Cowell and managed by Ronan Keating, Westlife have had 14 number one singles in the UK, the third highest such total in UK music history. Only a certain Mr. Presley and The Beatles have had more, indicating the huge popularity the band hold over the record buying public.

They are also the only group to win the coveted Record of the Year award in the UK an astounding 4 times, and it was estimated that by the beginning of 2008, the group was worth in excess of 19 million pounds.

But how did this popularity start? Westlife's first big break came in 1998 when they opened a gig for Boyzone in Dublin. With people now talking about them, they released their first single, Swear It Again, in March 1999 and it went straight to the top of the charts. When If I Let You Go went straight in at number 1 five months later, it cemented their status and made a statement that they were no one-hit wonders. Flying Without Wings followed in October, and the number 1 slot was theirs again; number 1's it seemed, were as natural to them as eating and sleeping.

Their first album, Westlife, was released in November 1999 and was a massive hit, peaking at number 2 in the UK, after being a huge Christmas seller. The final single from the album, Fool Again, was released and also hit number one, meaning all four of their debut singles had hit top spot.

Westlife's follow-up album, Coast To Coast, was released in November 2000, again just before Christmas, and it was an enormous hit in the UK. It went on to be the country's fourth biggest selling album of the year and outstripped their debut album in sales by a mile.

Their third album came a year later, again in November, called World of Our Own, featuring several songs that eventually became number 1 hits, including Uptown Girl, Queen of My Heart, and World of Our Own.

Meanwhile the press were filled with daily rumours of an impending split in the band, which worsened after the release of their Greatest Hits album, Unbreakable, in November 2002. For the next year they were dogged with constant speculation over the future of the band, and found themselves having to deny everything, despite a number 4 hit with Hey Whatever, and another number 1 album in Turnaround.

On 9th March 2004, just before their their fourth European tour was to start, Bryan McFadden announced he was leaving the band. The press felt vindicated, and the departure was seen as having an ill effect on the group, when for the first time in their history, their new album did not make it to number 1; Allow Us To Be Frank peaked "only" at number 3.

In November 2005, You Raise Me Up was released from their seventh album, Face to Face, and on 6th November, both the album and single broke records by being at number 1 in the UK charts simultaneously.

Still ignoring negative press activity, late 2006 saw Westlife sign a brand new five album deal with Sony/BMG. Their eighth studio album, The Love Album, followed and was made up of all their previous covers of popular love songs. Another number 1 came in the form of their ninth studio album, Back Home, exactly a year later. Westlife were now legends in their own time.

In late 2007, Westlife announced their intention to play the historic Croke Park in Dublin, in front of a planned 70,000 fans. It will be their biggest ever concert, ensuring that although no album is scheduled for 2008, they will make history yet again, by playing to so many people in their hometown.

Discography
Albums

1999: Westlife (UK #2)
2000: Coast to Coast (UK #1)
2001: World Of Our Own (UK #1)
2002: Unbreakable - The Greatest Hits Vol. 1 (UK #1)
2003: Turnaround (UK #1)
2004: Allow Us to Be Frank (UK #3)
2005: Face to Face (UK #1)
2006: The Love Album (UK #1)
2007: Back Home (UK #1)

Forthcoming Dates

2008

February - 25, 26, 27: Belfast Odyssey Arena; 29: Liverpool Arena; March - 1, 2: The O2; London; 4, 5 Newcastle Arena, 8, 9, 10: Cardiff CIA; 12, 13: Birmingham NEC; 15, 16: Manchester Evening News Arena; 18, 19, 20, 21: Glasgow SECC; 24: Nottingham Arena; 25, 26: Sheffield Arena; 28: Wembley Arena
About the Author
This article was written by Colin Galbraith for Viagogo.co.uk, a leading European ticket hub. Viagogo connects buyers and sellers of tickets, concert tickets, Westlife Tickets and more. Viagogo also guarantees all the transactions, so if you are looking for tickets online, Viagogo is the place to go!
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